What Marketers Can Learn From Home Depot’s Beloved—and Sold-Out—12-Foot Skeleton

The ghoulish, bare-bones giant has become one of the most sought-out decorative pieces of 2020, mostly thanks to memes

skeleton in front of house
The 12-foot skeleton is the hot ticket for this Halloween decorating season. Home Depot
Headshot of Mónica Marie Zorrilla

For much of mankind’s history, artists and art aficionados have sustained a fascination with the depiction of the human body—sans skin. Skeletons and skulls utilized as popular artistic imagery can be traced as far back as when the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B plastered human skulls created in the ancient upper Mesopotamia region between 8,000 and 6,000 B.C. Since then, a slew of famous, illustrated, painted and animated bare bones have cropped up from the likes of Claezs, Cézanne, Holbein, Kustodiev, Gogh, Ub Iwerks, Picasso, Kahlo, Posada. And its shown up in advertising, too.

Its renditions have evolved throughout the years. In atypical 2020, the memento mori representation is the 12-foot Giant-Sized Skeleton with LifeEyes from The Home Depot. And it’s managed to capture the hearts of thousands

Retailing for $299 on the home improvement retailer’s official site—and reportedly sold by resellers for well-over $1k—the hot-ticket item has become one of the most sought-out this Halloween season, inspiring numerous memes across the internet. The skeleton, part of The Home Depot’s Home Accents Holiday “Grave ‘N Bones” collection, first appeared on shelves around the beginning of September, according to international analytics firm Talkwalker marketer Rafael Sternbach-Le Noury. Since Sept. 23, the skeleton has more than 155,000 mentions across social media, and has received 1.2 million engagements, mostly in part because of tweets that went viral about the product. The product sold out and became much more exclusive, making “sightings” of the decorative product a treat for fans.

“If ‘giant skeleton’ were a real industry, then Home Depot would be absolutely dominating it,” Sternbach-Le Noury said.

“The lesson here is that if the product is going to make for incredible pictures – whether it’s a beauty product that makes you look better, or a giant skeleton that makes you look more hip—it is going to do well on the internet,” Todd Grossman, CEO Americas, Talkwalker, added in a statement. “Scarcity is a big part of what’s driving the conversation, and Home Depot did well to give the internet just enough of a taste that they are now demanding more.” 

Sternbach-Le Noury noted it’s mostly women discussing the skeleton (usually as a stand-in for a romantic partner), with 64% (93,000 mentions) versus 36% (51,000) from men. Other brands also being mentioned frequently alongside the product include payment apps like CashApp, Venmo and PayPal or even GoFundMe. This is because “people want to crowdfund their purchase,” Sternbach-Le Noury explained.

According to Lance Allen, decorative holiday merchant at The Home Depot, this particular skeleton, designed by The Home Depot’s decorative holiday team, drew inspiration from old Halloween movies and several haunted houses with the goal of “going bigger.”

“We knew the 12-foot skeleton would get attention,” Allen said. “But we did not predict the level of widespread fanfare that it attracted this year.”

Per Allen, the company is thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response to the product and appreciate the innovative use of The Home Depot mobile app’s capabilities for meme-ing. “Even if not necessarily intended for its intended purpose,” Allen added, “we love to see our customers having fun with our products. That’s what this season is all about.”


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@monicroqueta monica.zorrilla@adweek.com Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.
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